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We're off to see the Wizard!

The American classic "The Wizard of Oz" returns to the Buckeye Local High School theater

March 10, 2012
By KIM LOCCISANO - Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

"The Great and Powerful Oz" and the rest of the very large cast of characters taking part in the March 29, 30 and 31st productions at Buckeye Local High School of the American movie classic, "The Wizard of Oz" invite area residents of all ages to come along on a trip from Kansas to Munchkinland, down the Yellow Brick Road, past the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West, all the way to the Emerald City and back to Kansas without ever having to leave the comfort of the local school's theatre.

The March 2012 production brings a return to the school's stage of her initial production at Buckeye Local of "The Wizard of Oz" a decade ago but includes a few twists in honor of that anniversary, according to Buckeye Local High School Theatre Department Head Teresa Cybulski.

It involves one of the largest casts ever to take the stage as part of a theatre production at Buckeye Local, she offered.

Article Photos

Several cast members of the upcoming Buckeye Local High School production of 'The Wizard of Oz' took time out from rehearsing to recognize this particular show's personal and professional significance to their teacher and the play's director, Teresa Cybulski. It marks her 10th anniversary with the high school productions at Buckeye Local High School. From left, front row, Rian Trekal and Allexis Spencer. Standing: Kyle Sutphin, James Piazza, Austin Ferguson, Cybulski, Carrie George, Valerie Zamski, Zach Kaiser and Liza Jones.

"I didn't want to do exactly the same thing we did 10 years ago, so I decided to make a few adjustments, making it our own while respecting the traditions of the original movie production," said Cybulski.

"Fields of poppies in the original production will be represented by students from Buckeye Local Middle School dressed in red tutus," she offered. "The visual representation of the unforgettable cyclone which magically transports Dorothy from Kansas to Munchkinland will involve an original lyrical dance choreographed for this local production."

"Snowflakes falling on the poppies will be represented by elementary and kindergarten age students from across the Buckeye Local School District," said Cybulski.

"The biggest challenge was really figuring out just how we were going to handle the Oz Scene - the scene," she said, referring to the airborne nature of the movie's original representation of Oz and Dorothy "returning" to Kansas in two very different ways: one in a hot air balloon and the other via the magic that came with Dorothy clicking her heels together. Cybulski did not offer any hints as to how this is to be accomplished during the three evening productions on the stage at Buckeye Local High School.

"I think the audience will really enjoy seeing costumes, backdrops and props that are designed to be reproductions of those used in the MGM production," she said. "We are trying very hard to bring the original feel of the production to our stage, while at the same time adding a little or our own twist to it all - so the audience will not always know what is coming next."

Thanks in large part to a decision to rent classic style costumes, backdrops and props from a company in California which specializes in reproducing those vintage items for use by customers such as the local high school's theatre productions, audience members should not be too surprised by a feeling of being transported back to a point in their childhood when they were first quizzed by "The Gatekeeper," according to the Buckeye Local teacher.

The magic of the connection to the classic will be cemented when a number of large crates finally make their way across the country from California to the local high school: they contain all the rented materials such as costumes, props and backdrops.

These will provide very real visual connections for the audience and cast to details like Dorothy's ruby slippers, the look of Munchkinland where her house landed after the initial cyclone blew it there from Kansas, Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz resides and the famous Yellow Brick Road.

The American musical fantasy film was initially released in August 1939 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based on the turn of the century era children's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum.

The original film's cast included many who have become recognized as industry icons based on their part in the film. Those stars included Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins, according to industry historians.

A technical marvel at the time, it featured special effects made possible through what was then a revolutionary development: Technicolor.

At the time of the original movie release, the production landed in movie history for a variety of benchmarks including the format of fantasy storytelling as the plot and a cast made up largely of fairytale like characters.

Through the years, pieces of the script have become routinely used phrases in modern American culture. Musical selections from the original work have also found expanded popularity apart from the MGM release.

The many awards and related recognition nominations received by the movie from across the industry cemented its place in cinema and theatre history alike, according to industry officials.

One of the reasons behind the show's popularity - whether on stage or screen - is the annual tradition of it being aired on television, beginning in 1956.

Telecasts of it began in 1956, re-introducing the film to the public and eventually becoming an annual tradition, making it one of the most famous films ever made and a popular choice for school and community drama groups to bring to life on a school or community level.

An evening of entertainment for audiences of all ages is the promise from everyone working to bring this classic to their stage at the local high school.

After all "There's no place like home!"

Curtain time is 7 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door.



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